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Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 in Tell Me Why |

Why Wedding Rings Are Usually Made of Gold?

Why Wedding Rings Are Usually Made of Gold?

The modern custom of wearing gold wedding rings originated in Roman times, but the idea took many centuries to become established as a universally accepted tradition. At first rings made of iron were introduced as tokens of betrothal. In those days the privilege of wearing gold rings was reserved for Roman senators and magistrates.

As the Empire became more affluent and permissive, this right was allowed to spread through the various levels of society, and engaged couples took advantage of the freedom to use the coveted gold for their betrothal rings. A great writer of the early Christian church, Tertullian (about 155-222) said that gold “being the nobler and purer metal and remaining longer uncorrupted was thought to intimate the generous, sincere and durable affection which ought to be between the married parties”.

Gold marriage rings, as distinct from betrothal rings, came into use from the 5th Century, but do not appear to have been generally adopted by the Church for use in the wedding ceremony until much later. At first they probably simply received the Church’s blessing. In English-speaking countries the wedding ring is usually worn on the third finger of the left hand, perhaps because of an old belief that a nerve ran from that finger directly to the heart, denominated in Latin the “Vena amoris”. But in Germany and France and other European countries both husband and wife wear the ring on the third finger of the right hand, the hand traditionally used for making vows.

It is commonly believed that the first examples of wedding rings were found in ancient Egypt. Relics dating to 6,000 years ago, including papyrus scrolls, are evidence of the exchange of braided rings of hemp or reeds between spouses. Ancient Egypt considered the circle to be a symbol of eternity, and the ring served to signify the perpetual love of the spouses.

modern exchange of rings

The Western traditions of wedding rings can be traced to ancient Rome and Greece, and were first associated with the marital dowry and later with a promise of fidelity. The modern exchange of rings derived from the customs of Europe in the Middle Ages as part of Christendom. In the United States, wedding rings were initially only worn by wives, but became customary for both husbands and wives during the 20th century.

Yellow gold is one of the most classic metals used for wedding bands and rings, and it happens to be the most popular choice for men’s and ladies wedding rings. When you go to buy a yellow gold wedding ring, you need to consider how many “karats” the gold is. These aren’t the same as the carats used to measure diamonds.

Basically, pure gold is too soft to be used for wedding rings. So, gold is mixed with other metals to form the ring.  Karats measure the proportion of gold that is actually used in the ring, expressed as parts of 24. So, an 18K yellow gold ring is actually 18/24 or 75% pure gold.

wedding bands and rings

Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as zinc and copper to get the yellow color. The most blingtastic metal material, traditional yellow gold is experiencing a fashion revival. After waning in popularity in the past decade due to a common preference for white metals, gold is fighting back with a vengeance. You have 9, 18 and 22 carat to choose from.

What’s the difference? 9 carat is the cheapest due to the lower content of pure gold (commonly around 37.5% with other less precious metals mixed in) and as a result is prone to tarnishing over time. 18 and 22 carat are more expensive due to a higher gold content. In general, gold rings can be less resistant to scratches than harder metals and they can wear thin over time.

Content for this question contributed by Marylee Bunch, resident of Olmsted Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA